We're Sorry Howard
Dear Howard Dean,
On behalf of progressives everywhere, I apologize. I'm really, really, really, really sorry.
I'm sorry that so many of us were unable to see the strength, clarity and integrity that you demonstrated in opposing the invasion of Iraq from the start, and without qualification. You got it right, and nearly everyone else who mattered got it wrong. How you go a waking moment these days without telling the world "I told you so" is beyond me.
I'm sorry that the media got scared of a genuine and unapologetic progressive. For all the self-serving wingeing they do about slick politicians, and for all the lip service they give to the notion of plainspoken, honest leadership, they sure do get cold feet when the real deal comes along. They were loaded for bear when you made that speech in Iowa, you know. They were waiting for a reason to kneecap you because they were scared gutless of anything but palatably average. And palatably average they got.
I'm sorry we let them paint you like a nut. It wasn't fair.
I remember my wife called me into the bedroom to watch that speech. "You gotta see this guy," she said. "He's so passionate. Look at how fired up that crowd is!" And God, they were. The real reaction to that infamous scream of yours was right there, in the moment, with those people. The press's rearview reaction to it was contrived, hysterical and unfair; anything sounds stupid when you parse it and play it over and over and over. I expected guys like Hannity and Buchanan to weaponize that outburst against you, but Chris "Windsock" Matthews earned a special place in Hell for playing along.
I should have stood up and said something then. We all should have stood up and said something. I'm sorry.
Here's the thing: you should be the President-elect right now. I know it. Plenty of us know it. Watching Junior bang away at Kerry's inconsistencies in the last few weeks of that tragic campaign, I couldn't help but think, "Rove is right... I have no goddamn idea where this man stands... he has Kerry by the short hairs." If you'd been the progressives' candidate, Howard, nobody would have even had to ask where you stood, and I believe that people would have stood by you as a result.
I know this isn't much consolation, and I know it takes a lot of nerve, but a lot of us would be really, really grateful if you agreed to Chair the DNC for a while. I'm not even a Democrat, but as a political force, the party is the only thing that can dig in its heels against the incestuous, soul-crushing power trio of industry, church and state. Most of us either believe in, respect, or contribute to those institutions in one way or another; we simply distrust the motives and influence they wield when they are combined or co-mingled. And we're not headed that way, Howard. We're there already. The Republican Church of Clear Channel, Inc. is buying up bandwidth with the spoils of government interference with the unabashed aim of controlling airwaves and therefore message, and they know it's going to be years before their mega-audience gets Sirius. 1984 arrived 20 years late.
The party is divided how to deal with it, but the good news is that one side is right and the other side is wrong. A lot of people in the party are saying the Dems need to look more like the Republicans. If you take this job they will pressure you to behave. To be a polite centrist. I don't think you will. And that's why I think you're the man to turn the battleship around.
We don't deserve you, but we need you. What do you say?